Today’s trek is for 5 year old Catherine, and I can’t help but think of my 5 year old son now. Any parent would make that connection. It’s just human nature to try and relate. It breaks my heart to think about my boy getting hurt or sick, so I can only imagine the strength and courage these kids and families must have to endure cancer and the treatment. But the excitement of meeting with Juliana, Claire, and Governor Hogan yesterday was the added boost for my team to make it just a few more days for Cool Kids Campaign. Today, Friday August 14 we will make our way across the Eastern Shore between Grasonville, Easton, and then Sharptown. Please track us live. Even though most of today is flat and rural, it will be long. There was a lot of support along this route last year and my team would love it now. We aim to get started between 8:30 and 9 AM.
As I write this, we are closing in on $18,000 for Cool Kid Campaign. Please consider giving to our cause today. Even a $10 donation will add up.
Before sharing Catherine’s story, I want to share a note from her grandmother Roberta. I met her at a Cool Kids race in June and wanted her part of this trek. This morning, here was the message I received:
“Good morning Justin, we are so grateful that your team is trekking for Catherine today! As you travel toward your goal today, pray for Catherine as she also treks toward her goal of a cure spending a portion of the day under anesthesia at Johns Hopkins receiving routine chemotherapy to her spine.”
Day 6– Catherine Reid
5 years old
Type of Cancer: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia
Lives in Phoenix, MD
My Daughter’s Trek Through A.L.L., By Jessie Reid
Catherine Reid, my middle child, is 5 years old and has been living with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia for the past two years. She was diagnosed on July 30, 2013 and turned 3 years old in the hospital a couple days later. By the time we were cutting into the rainbow birthday cake, Catherine was already beginning to show side effects from the various medications that were poisoning the cancer in her blood. She was losing her sense of taste; she was losing coordination and her energy; she was losing that luster for life that toddlers have when they are fascinated with every facet of the world. That is because Catherine’s world suddenly turned into a 10′ x 10′ room, sterile hallways, and doctors who poked and whispered and analyzed her constantly. We tried hard to transplant things from home that would be comforting to her – a star lamp, stuffed animals, music, and artwork. But as much as we filled it with familiar objects, the hospital was not home. And without her at home, the house didn’t feel familiar either.
Every aspect of our lives, every nook and cranny that contained some sense of normalcy was emptied out. Every hardship Catherine endured had a ripple effect through me as a father. She and her mother lived on the oncology floor at Johns Hopkins for 32 days. During that time, more and more of her strawberry blonde hair was coming out with every brushing and her long pony tails got thinner and thinner until finally brushing wasn’t an option. Catherine had never gone for a haircut and now wouldn’t be able to for the next few years. The circles under eyes darkened. Her skin was pale and getting thin even though we had gotten home from the beach just three days before her admittance. The days began to run together for her. Every morning seemed a similar version of the day before – every waking moment she was tethered to the I.V. pole. There was no playing outdoors – she was now susceptible to fungal infections from dirt blowing around in the air. There was no chasing or wrestling with siblings because any cut or bruise would surely not heal, and no energy for such fun anyway. There was not even a chance to walk down to the hospital cafeteria, unless she wore a face mask, because she was at risk of catching any infection anyone else carried. And, there was no sign of going home. Time for the adults in the family slowed to a snail’s pace as each day crawled by. Time for Catherine seemed to stop altogether. At best, a 2 or 3 year old knows the concepts of ‘yesterday’ and ‘tomorrow.’ Therefore, I didn’t know how to answer a question like “can I go home soon Daddy?” Especially if the answer is: “No, Sweetie, not for two or three more weeks.” To her that sounded like an indefinite hospital stay.
August of 2013 – filled with the hospital’s stainless steel, fluorescent lighting, needles, and uncertainty – eventually passed. In its place was our new life as a cancer family. Our journey was joined by troops of gracious doctors, nurses, and other Hopkins hospital staff, and the loving support of the Cool Kids Campaign and other generous organizations. Every single day held both fright and hope. Catherine and her Mom finally came home and that was as joyous a celebration any of us ever experienced! Our days and weeks were filled with check-ups, in-home nurse visits, and trips to the operating room. Throughout it all Catherine has maintained a smile and responded exceptionally well to her treatments, although there were many months when she couldn’t walk well or run at all or dress herself. But, now that she’s only four months away from being finished with treatment, she is as healthy, happy, and beautiful as ever. We feel like a normal family again, though we’ve been changed. Catherine’s laughter is more precious. Her new hair is as soft as silk. Her legs can again carry her farther and faster than ever. Her drawings of rainbows, her made-up songs, her knock-knock jokes, her play-doh sculptures, her hugs – all of these things are sharper in focus now. She has a luster for life again and there is a triumph in our daily routines – one of hope and faith. The bravery and resilience inside our child, and others like her, is absolutely stunning. Catherine is overcoming something that we thought was going to break us. It is as if she is born to us a second time; we are starting over, and within everything that used to be mundane and normal, is now a joyful moment to be thankful.
Today is day 6 of our Trek Across Maryland and today we do this for you!
Cool Kids We Honor This Week
- Day 2 For Jaidan Richardson
- Day 3 for Claire Russell
- Day 4 Break Memorial Ride For Shawn Madden
- Day 5 for Ava Daniels
More highlights from our visit to Annapolis and crossing the Bay on the way after this day.
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